This is part of a series of posts about our expereinces at a camp for families formed through transracial adoption.
Intro is Pact Camp: An Introduction
Part 1 is The Information
Part 2 is Challenges on Planet Barnacle
Part 3 is First Glimpses Out of the Race and Adoption Fog
First Glimpses Out of the Race and Adoption Fog
Usually in an environment where I know no-one and know nothing, I keep my mouth shut. For the most part I did at Pact camp. But there was one conversation I really wanted to join in. The concept I was trying to communicate had to do with hearing someone else’s intentions. What I actually said had little to do with that and came out really wrong. Sounded dumb and wrong and clueless. And as I felt it all coming out wrong, my attempts to fix it went even more wrong. Finally I just stopped talking. But I’ve spent part of everyday berating myself for it.
I’ve reflected quite a bit on the shame and self-hatred that came out of that moment. And here’s what I think drives it. Bill and I wandered cluelessly into this world of transracial adoption – so completely steeped in our upper-middle class thrones of white and class privilege that we couldn’t even conceive of them. We just assumed we could give an African-American child everything they need. I am filled with anger and bitterness at our arrogance and at the system that so readily encouraged our uninformed plunge into this task for which we are so woefully unequipped – leaving our truly amazing adopted child at risk for so many degrees of hurt.
My moment of public abstruseness laid out for the room to see how much I don’t get it. How unprepared I am to meet some of Rosie’s most basic needs. I like to be organized, informed, tidy, protected. Having my ignorance bared for all to see shamed and horrified me.
But here’s the thing – now everyone knows the comprehensive levels of my cluelessness (including, importantly, me). Now I can be totally frank with the people in that essential room (and you who read this) that right now Rosie and our family are in trouble. And now I have the truth, tools and resources to begin creating a world in which Rosie can grow up supported in her very personal journey to discover who they are and what is special, meaningful, lovable and powerful about her.
Like an alcoholic, I have struggled with the first step – admitting I have a problem. The shame and self-hatred of being powerless has washed over me. Now I can move on, find our family’s own steps to living in a sane world that acknowledges the truth of all parts of each of us. Now there is hope.